The Asian Cup in 2019 will have 24 teams, the Asian Football Confederation announced.
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twg

26 Jan 2014 - 7:32 PM  UPDATED 26 Jan 2014 - 7:52 PM

The AFC has decided to revamp the confederation’s national team competitions with a host of changes to the showpiece event.

Under the new format Asia biggest tournament will have 24 teams in the finals instead of 16 and the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup, to be held in Maldives in May, will be the last edition of this competition.

The 2015 Asian Cup will be held in Australia next January.

The qualification rounds for FIFA World Cup qualifiers and AFC Asian Cup qualifiers will also be merged for the preliminary round.

Depending on the number of entries, the member associations will be divided into eight groups after preliminary stages with the eight group winners and four second best teams will qualify for the World Cup final round of qualifiers and also the AFC Asian Cup finals.

Presently, only 10 teams battle it out in the final round of World Cup qualifiers.

The second and third-placed teams from the preliminary qualification round (24 teams) will compete for the remaining slots in the Asian Cup finals in six groups of four teams each.

The final round of World Cup qualifiers and Asian Cup qualifiers will be separated.

Addressing the committee members at the AFC Under-22 Championships in Oman, AFC president Shaikh SalmanEbrahim Al Khalifa urged the member associations to adhere to the changes that are proposed in the meeting.

'Competitions are the main products of AFC and I am happy that it is in good hands," said the AFC president.

'We must market our product and generate income to sustain football across the continent.

'I am sure that the changes that happen will have a big impact in Asian football and will benefit our associations."